Sunday, January 29, 2012

Slalom Tips for Starts & Straight Line Speed

PWA tour media representative Ed Sinclair put together this group interview, taken from 2 articles, about slalom racing reprinted here with permission. All photos by John Carter.
Performing the perfect start can make or break your slalom race, we asked the slalom fleet to share their top tips on how to hit the line on the buzzer. If you come in early you run the risk of being disqualified, if you slow down then you will be at a huge disadvantage. However if you come in late it's hard to make that ground up for the rest of the race. The start in a slalom race is one of the most complicated aspects of the race, although extremely exciting to watch, it requires a huge amount of skill from the sailors. We asked the slalom fleet for their top tips on how to nail it.

Tine Slabe (RRD / Al360) That is the hardest part and maybe the most important. The trick is to stay very concentrated and on the other hand calm. You need to know how far you can go in how much time. And you count the last twenty seconds in your head, that is how I do it at least.

Cyril Moussilmani (Severne / Starboard)  No special tricks I just close my eyes and go...

Kurosh Kiani (Simmer / Angulo) Getting a perfect start is all about timing and knowing your speed. Personally my "secret" is staying fairly close to the line at all times. The further you are from the line, the harder it will be to estimate your distance to the mark. Anything other than being fully locked in at 0 seconds and on the line is unacceptable.

Enes Yilmazer (JP / NeilPryde)  You have to know a couple of points before to chose your strategy for the start:
-Try to start on favorite side, pin or boat or middle.
-Stay away from top guys or possible riders that can block your wind or your start area.
-Know the start area and how long will it take for a full speed start.
-Try to time yourself so you go full blast for the last 15 seconds.
-Always be aware of possible upwind and downwind changes you might do depending on other races or timing.
-Try to start without doubts; don’t slow down at the last second.

Jesper Orth (F2)  Everybody knows that the starts in Slalom are extremely important. To hit the start line with 100% speed on the buzzer is the ultimate goal. How do I get to this stage of consistent good starts? It is quite hard to practice starts when not competing, unless you have 8 other keen sailors and a start boat with a line setup.
So race experience count big time here and that’s why we often see the more experienced “older” guys do more consistent good starts compared to the “young guns.” Best thing is to find your own routine with the starts. The PWA slalom countdown is 4 minutes. Make sure you are next to the boat when they start the countdown of 4 min, so you can hear them. Sail down the first slalom leg to check the wind and angle. Make a plan if you start at the boat or pin mark or in the middle. If you know your competitors well, then you would also know where they prefer to start normally, so this also opens some options for better positions than others.

With 2 min to go you cross the start line backwards and check your watch is spot on. From here on everybody have different routines. Some will sail a long way out, other will be close to the start line, high and low. Stick to your plan where you want to start! And believe in you own timing with the watch. More than often most sailors will be early to the start line and slow down a bit. Do some practice starts before the real start to get your timing right. If you sail places where there are visible marks like jetty’s, buoys, trees or marks on land – then make some check point. Check the time on your watch, from the possible markings in near full speed to the start line and make a mental note, for the real start to check if you are early or late.

The last 10-15 sec takes a lot of experience. Here you really need your timing spot on and work your way up to full speed. Lots can happen here and it is important to put on the “aggressive” face to protect your space and plan. Keep your cool and don’t let the other sailors “push” you forward to much as you will need to slow down not to be over early. If you have excellent timing then coming from the back with free space and wind is the ultimate start. This does however take some practice and confidence.

Every location is different so different tactic can apply. In gusty offshore wind, it is more important to be closer to the line than try to come with full speed from behind. In rolling waves it is important to start on the front of a wave and not behind it, so even if it means a little less speed hitting the start line, - then make sure to be in front of one. Work on your acceleration in your gear. This will improve your chances for good starts and extra boost out of the start line.

Don’t be intimidated by the other sailors with "big names." Sail over the top of them or push them upwind before the start if you need to. They would do the same to you if they needed. There is No Rules – but remember to keep it fair…

We asked the world's fastest sailors to share their knowledge when it came to going faster in a straight line.

Karin Jaggi (Patrik / Severne)  When it gets really extreme I often sail with earplugs, the soft ones from the concerts. You might think you loose a bit of balance but I have the opposite experience. It takes away that aggressive sound of the wind away, everything is much quieter and feels like “slow motion”. It creates a completely different world around you. So I can concentrate on my own movements and focus on going fast.

Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / North)  Try to tune your gear well at the start of your session.

Antoine Albeau (JP / NeilPryde)  The best way to go fast on the straights is to have perfect tuning. The best way to do that is to speed test with a friend and try different ways of setting your sail. Here’s what to try: different mast track position, different boom height positions and different tensions of downhaul. You will be able to feel the difference by doing this, and you will know what feels easier to go faster and what is slower.

Tine Slabe (RRD / AL360)  Stay focused on the water a few meters in front of your board and try to read the waves and imagine where is the most flat. Despite this, sail a lot and I mean a lot especially in you have a chance with faster guys than you!

Enez Yilmazer (JP / NeilPryde)
1-Tuned gear: you need to have a good balanced gear that you can hold on to at high end and still get pressure when you need it at low end
2-Downhaul - make sure you have a good amount of downhaul, go out there adjust and try to feel the difference
3-Fin - make sure you choose a good fin - can change your world
4- Power - try to keep your gear balance and push the power of the sail to board through your legs and try to keep the lift.

Kurosh Kiani (Simmer / Angulo)  One of the most important things that I have learned over the years is that you need to get to a point where you are able to sheet in fully, push the equipment and be comfortable at the same time. I have always worked on two aspects that I think have helped me out a lot. In high wind, I try to be compact and generally be in control rather than going fast for a while and wiping out. This means longer harness lines and perhaps a waist harness, so that you can really tuck into survival position when the wind gets really strong.

In lighter winds I work on the exact opposite. I try to get further out on the rail of the board and really work on the fin to get it lifting, and I really focus on keeping the rig upright so that I have as much power as possible to keep the lift and I will hopefully be flying down the reach.

 If you have a question you would like to ask the professionals just post it on  PWA Facebook.

There's more... Kurosh Kiani wrote a 6 part series for Windsurfer, Pro Slalom Secrets; Peter Volwater and Peter De Wit co-wrote 2 articles, Elements of Speed. Find these on the Learners guide page Racing. More speed tips from Albeau, Pritchard, Peterson on the Hodgepodge page.

"Discover the hidden potential of your slalom equipment with 10 easy and practical golden rules!   Often this more technical gear does not allow us to feel comfortable and relaxed when surfing. Therefore we are now going to give you the answers to the most common problems. Give priority to modifying the trim of the gear, starting with the first solution given. If this does not work, continue to the second listed advice and so on…"  10 Golden Rules of Slalom

More Pro Tips from Boardseeker with this video about the Slalom Gybe.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Windsport ~ Pete Dekay · 101 Surf Sports · AWT

It wasn't a death match between 2 business rivals or even a corporate play to gain market dominance. The end came to WindSurfing, one of the two North American windsurfing magazines, simply because they threw in the towel. Editor Pete Dekay says, "Windsport is actually North America's longest running windsurfing publication starting in 1981 but as a Canadian magazine. Around 1998 the focus was broadened to become “North America’s windsurfing magazine” and that has been the focus ever since with roughly 85 percent of our copies being delivered to the US. Windsport is based in both the Gorge (White Salmon, WA and Hood River, OR) and Toronto, ON, which allows us to cover all of North America quite nicely." The 40 year old Dekay added, "This year marks the beginning of my sixth year as editor. Before that I enjoyed the title of Instructional Editor while I was teaching for ABK Boardsports -- for about nine years touring around the country full time and living in a van. Wow... 15 years in the windsurfing business!"  A few questions for Pete:

In their official statement about the closing of WindSurfing, Bonnier Corp stated: "...Due to a continual decline and consolidation in the windsurfing and kiteboarding markets the magazines have been placed on hiatus..." How do you see the sport? Are we growing or declining? Or perhaps we're in neutral?

Pete mid vulcan
I think windsurfing in the US has been in “neutral” for the past few years. Most shops that I’ve talked to have had a mix of good and bad years over the past few. We need to support the shops, as they are the key part of our sport’s growth. There are a lot of positives going on with the sport today. Most of the windsurfing schools I’ve talked to have been doing very well over the past few years. Classes are full, so people out there want to learn to windsurf. We just need more schools all around the country. Plus, growth could come about as all the new SUPers realize how much fun it is to stick a sail on their new board when it gets windy. Another great thing right now is that we have one of the best ever national competition tours going on: the American Windsurfing Tour.

I was surprised that they saw the sport in consolidation. The industry certainly isn't buying each other out. While we have lost some, every time I turn around there seems to be a new sail or board company. What do you think?

There are plenty of brands out there making awesome gear. I think that as long as windsurfers support their “local” shop and join (or start) a regional club then “brand consolidation” isn’t something that the average Joe needs to worry about. I’ve put a listing of shops and clubs on the main menu bar of Windsport and I’d appreciate hearing from anyone about additions I can make to these lists.

How would Windsport change if you suddenly gain a lot of subscribers from the closing of Windsurfing Magazine?

It’s always cool to gain subscribers and I hope people that only got Windsurfing Mag in the past do check us out. We are looking at it as being a huge responsibility to be the only non-regional windsurfing publication left in North America. I’m happy with what we’ve been doing but will look at everything we can do to get even better. I want to hear from all windsurfers out there. E-mail me at  and tell me what you want to see in Windsport.

British based Boards is about to refocus their enterprise from print to digital. All print businesses are going through changes because of the Internet. What's your vision for the future of print?
Print magazines definitely have to adapt and get involved in different mediums to survive today, but Boards announcement was definitely a shock. A magazine’s website is now very important and we try to use as an extension of the magazine with fresh content added every day. Subscribers to Windsport will benefit of having the best of all worlds: a constantly updated website and an eye-popping print mag.

What does Windsport have to say to the newly orphaned WindSurfing readers?

You’ll always have a home at Windsport. As North America’s only remaining windsurfing publication I want you, the reader, to be involved. Send me your comments, opinions, stories, photos, ideas, etc. at   Hope to see you on the water!

Diversity is the new business plan for water sports retailers. To succeed, retailers have broadened their product lines to broaden their appeal. In today's shop, more product equals more customers. For us in windsurfing, a new retailer is nothing but good vibrations for the health of our sport. Enter David Wells, chief bottle washer for Waterhound.

"The new shop in San Rafael, CA is a dream realized. My business partner is 2 time windsurfing world champion Cort Larned. We are doing SUP, Windsurfing, Kiteboarding, kayaking, and surfing. The core of the business is SUP but it was a priority to put a proper windsurfing shop in place and SUP makes that possible. About 30% of our SUP's have windsurfing mast tracks. We are going to carry JP, Neil Pryde, Epic Gear, Aerotech, and Starboard. The shop opened 11-11-11 at 11:11:11 am. We do plan a second store and hopefully a 3rd and a 4th. The next one will be in San Francisco. The build out took 43 days and we really pushed hard to make it a special place. We are right on the water but it's strictly a longboard windsurfing, Kayak, and SUP launch. No shortboarding." The new store's new website

Still 5 months away, the American Windsurfing Tour is excited about 2012. A tentative schedule is set with all the same 5 stops from last year. Check the website for event dates. From their Facebook page, the latest news:

Prize Money - The Expert division will now be called Professional with prize money on the line at each stop.
Live Casting of US Events - Competitions will be broadcast live on the internet so the action can be followed all over the world.
Grand Masters Division Added - Windsurfers over the age of 55 will now have their own time on the water.
New AWT Website coming soon - a new-look site with all the info you need to know about the  AWT.
Facebook Fan Page - Be sure to follow this link and click 'LIKE'

Postcript · Pete Dekay said in the interview, "I’ve put a listing of shops and clubs on the main menu bar of Windsport and I’d appreciate hearing from anyone about additions I can make to these lists." My suggestion to Pete and everyone else is to take a look at the Community section in the Learners guide...  My shameless plug is please look at all of the material in the guide. Don't be shy, tell anyone with an interest in anything windsurfing: wannabe wave sailors - friends who just wanna see what it's like (Inside the brain...) - a racer who is deep in the fleet - aspiring freestyler - first time loopers.  Share the link with anyone who has an interest to learn.

Kai Lenny: "I am pretty sure this is my favorite windsurf shot of me ever." Photo by Berthuot | Visuals 

Dana Miller catching a January sesh on the Oregon coast. Photo by Tigi

Sunday, January 8, 2012

WindSurfing & Boards · Cisco & Jimmie at Jaws

Two windsurfing institutions are changed forever. U.S. based WindSurfing suspends publication; translation: going out of business. British based Boards decides to end their monthly print magazine. Unlike their American competition they will give it a go in the digital realm.

In 1980, Terry Snow, founder and owner of World Publishing, started his second magazine: WindRider. In 1990, they bought out their sole competitor, Windsurf and merged the 2 into the renamed WindSurfing. World Publishing was bought out by Swedish media giant, Bonnier Corp. in 2006. Just 5 years later:

"Bonnier Corp. has announced it will suspend publication of WindSurfing and Kiteboarding magazines. Due to a continual decline and consolidation in the windsurfing and kiteboarding markets, the magazines have been placed on hiatus, effective immediately. The Feb./March 2012 edition of Kiteboarding, currently in production, will be produced and distributed."

They believe the growth potential, increased revenue from advertising, subscriptions and counter sales, did not warrant the continuation of the 30 year old institution. This does not mean the sport is declining rather we are just growing too slowly for a company like Bonnier to stay in the windsurfing entertainment business. They, like all print businesses, continue to adjust their operations seeking to find balance between a finely honed, matured modus operandi and the new digital future. In the end, windsurfing was viewed as too small a market. The abrupt closing surprised everyone in the sport.

WS Mag had just relocated to Hood River in 2011 and shared an office (also closing) with Kiteboarding, the other magazine in their Bonnier Group. A check of the corporate website showed they were quickly erasing names. Former editor, Josh Sampiero, is already searching for new horizons which could potentially include staying in the windsurfing industry. "The sport of windsurfing and WINDSURFING magazine changed my life," says Josh. "It took me all over the world, introduced me to incredible people, and gave me the life many dream of, and for that, I'll always be grateful. And no matter what, I'll always be a windsurfer." The WS Mag website will also close. There was no comment about the possibility of selling WS Mag. Officially, they will retain their property with the hope they might reconstitute it in the future if market conditions warrant. But this seemed a fairly far fetched idea after talking with Dean Turcol, VP Corporate Communications for Bonnier Corp. He put the circulation for 2011 around 25,000.
The latest and possibly the last WS Mag Email Newsletter did not mention anything about the closing. Turcol said: "Current subscribers will receive a notice that they will receive TransWorld Surf for the duration of their subscription. However, if they do not wish to receive TransWorld Surf, they may select an alternate Bonnier-produced magazine."

Boards Magazine started in 1982; the venerable content powerhouse produced 10 issues per year. After much soul searching, they are changing from a print to a digital focused enterprise. Their press release: "Following an extensive review of the current windsurfing market and the demands of both audiences and brands, Boards have made the proactive decision to increase their investment and presence within the online market. From Jan 1st 2012, they will begin a program of investment that will include the launch of a new windsurfing website and mobile applications (please note – the forum will be unaffected other than enhancements to speed and reliability which we realise will be much welcomed).

To complement the enhanced digital experience and to better optimise the use of traditional media, Boards magazine will be restructured into a high quality 'reference' publication with two scheduled releases per year. In addition to these publications, the team will also create a Boards 'basics' magazine aimed at increasing windsurfing accessibility and participation.

Subscribers of Boards magazine, will receive a letter with issue 280 explaining what this will mean to them fully.

Overall, this investment and restructuring represents an exciting future for Boards magazine and one that should continue to increase audiences through media that best support windsurfers in the UK and beyond."

Jaws roared into the new year providing photographer Jimmie Hepp his rookie session shooting the famous wave. And thank you very much for sharing the action from Peahi this Jan 4, 2012. This 8 shot series of Francisco Goya is priceless. Don't miss his story of the day at the bottom of the post.

Just in case you missed the many Jaws videos...

Monday, January 2, 2012

Welcome 2012

This is the second year for the Lord of the Wind Showdown at Los Barriles, Baja on the southern coast of the Sea of Cortez. $20,000 of prize money awaits the competitors for their efforts from January 12 - 18. Last year, Kevin Pritchard won the Kite vs.Windsurfing Long Distance Race earning the winner take all prize money and some serious smack down bragging rights. Last year's inaugural event made it to television via the the Comcast Network this recent October. The Travel Channel will be there to shoot an episode from this year's event. For those who can't go, you can watch on your computer via the live webcast. Check the website.

Recent Training Camp - BRR, FL
The U.S. qualifier for the ISAF Youth Worlds, Jan 13 - 16 in Long Beach, CA, will select the 2 best finishers from the BIC Techno 293 Fleet to compete in the 2012 Youth Worlds, July 12 - 21, in Ireland. About a dozen juniors are expected to go to Long Beach. The 2 winners, one boy one girl, will have qualified in Long Beach on the T-293 and then must compete in Ireland on the RS:X. This could be a big jump in sail size for the lightweights. Juniors use to the T-293 7.8 max sail size will have to make adjustments, especially in winds over 18 knots, for the larger 8.5 sail used in youth RS:X. Also, the larger RS:X board will take lots of practice to get dialed. The Long Beach event will also factor into the decision for the selection of 4 members to the new U.S. Sailing Youth Development Team. More on the team here.

Bob Willis
Florida usually starts the winter race season with The Alex Caviglia Blue Water Classic in Miami. This regatta is traditionally held the weekend before the OCR. However, organizers reported on Dec 20: "Due to conflicting activities on a very busy weekend on the water and the Orlando Surf Expo (Jan 12 - 14), we are postponing the regatta. Stay tuned for the new dates announcement..." The Rolex Miami OCR  set for Jan 22 -28 is the only western hemisphere stop on the Olympic Class World Tour. expect to see a rather small field of competitors in the RS:X Class. Performance at this year's Miami OCR will factor into qualifying for the 4 RS:X members on the new U.S. Sailing Development Team.

Farrah Hall
Bob Willis and Farrah Hall are the recently qualified U.S. Olympic Team members for the RS:X Class. Congratulations !! Bob also qualified the U.S. for the 2012 Olympics at the 2011 Worlds in Perth, Australia. Farrah will have to finish in the top 7 of the as yet unqualified countries at the 2012 RS:X Worlds at Cadiz, Spain, March 20 - 29, to seal the deal for an Olympic berth. For the first time ever in the history of the class, Neil Pryde is putting up $50,000 prize money for this regatta. Adding to a big year for the RS:X Class, now focused on the 2012 Olympics in England, is a looming decision in November to pick which classes will compete at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. There has been a lot of speculation that kiting could replace windsurfing.

The Calema Midwinters returns this year, March 1 - 4, at Kelly Park, Cocoa, FL. This event is also hosting the Kona Class National Championship and the North American Techno 293 Championship. Traditionally held the week before the Midwinters on the west coast in Sarasota, FL, the Island Style Classic continues their annual event Feb 25 - 26 . Last year's replacement for the Midwinters, the Banana River Regatta, will not be held because event organizer, Dominique Valle, will be in Cadiz, Spain training for the RS:X Worlds. However, expect to see this event return in April 2013. Speaking of April, will there be a race in Jacksonville this year?
Finishing out 2011, Dec 28 - 31, the Banana River Training Camp in Cocoa Beach, FL (T293, Formula & RS:X) has become an annual get together for a group of young Americans and Canadians. The camps are focused on racing skills but work on everything related to windsurfing plus SUP-ing when there is no wind and suitable surf. The event was taught by Dominique Vallee, Britt Viehman and Karen Marriot. Many of the participants will now head to Long Beach in a few weeks.

DaNews is now published 3 days a week on M W F. I'm trying to focus even more on North American content and the first quarter of the year usually has a lower volume of news hence the abbreviated schedule.

The Calendar last year covered events in North America. Still looking for better sources for events in Canada and will try to include more South American events this year.

The Learners guide to windsurfing has updated all the Disciplines pages with new material; added a new page by Simon Bornhoft linking up 30+ articles; added a new page with links to the complete Jem Hall's Wannabe a Wave Sailor series; and increased the size of all the video players. More to come...